Many drivers are confident that they are experienced enough on the road that they can handle driving while also focusing on another task. However, the reality is that no person is safe when they are engaged in distracted driving.
Every day in the U.S., nine people die and 1,060 people are injured because of distracted driving – and that only counts cases where police investigators can draw a direct link between the crash and a distracted driver, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drive Smart Virginia reports that, in our state, eight out of 10 car accidents involve a distracted driver.
With April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we should all make a special commitment to becoming better educated and safer drivers.
To that end, later this month, Geoff McDonald & Associates, P.C., will present the results of a survey we conducted of high school students in Richmond and surrounding areas as part of our Drive Alive Richmond campaign. We hope the results of this survey will help us to better understand young people’s attitudes towards distracted driving and allow us to more effectively address this issue.
The Three Types of Distracted Driving
You may be allowing one or more dangerous distractions to get in your way while you are driving – and not even realize it. This is why it is important to understand the three main ways you can become distracted while driving. If you recognize that you are frequently engaging in this behavior, you need to change your ways.
As the government-run website, Distraction.gov, explains, drivers can become distracted:
- Visually – This occurs when your eyes are not on the road where they belong. This might happen, for example, while you are checking your makeup in the mirror or glancing down at a phone to dial a number.
- Manually – This happens when your hands are no longer on the wheel. For example, you may be eating while driving, changing a radio station or trying to get a pet riding with you to sit down.
- Cognitively – This occurs when you are not paying attention to driving because, for instance, you are carrying on a conversation on a phone or talking with a passenger in the backseat. Your mind is not on the road.
In a recent CDC survey, 69 percent of American drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 reported having used their cell phones while driving in the past month.
Furthermore, 80 percent of those surveyed said they believed that talking on a hands-free cell phone is safer than talking on a regular cell phone. However, in reality, your mental capacities are drawn away from driving even on a hands-free set. You can easily become just as distracted.
Texting is also a particularly dangerous activity while driving because it combines all three types of distraction: Your eyes are on the screen, your fingers are on the keys and your mind is on composing a message. When one considers the fatality rates of distracted driving, it should be clear that that message can wait.
What to Do if You Are Injured by a Distracted Driver in Virginia
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident with a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. A distracted driver can be considered negligent in the state of Virginia.
If you are considering filing a claim, you will need to talk to an experienced injury attorney who can help you to evaluate your options and who will be committed to seeking the compensation you deserve. To learn more, contact Geoff McDonald & Associates, P.C.